How To Increase Retention With The Parse API App

You’re probably using one (or a few) of these. Linkedin, Airbnb, Disqus have this system in place, among many others. The “reply by email” systems. There are a growing number of services using  this system which allows you to reply to a message thread in the website directly from your inbox, saving you the hassle of logging back in.

Does your business have this in place? Let’s dive into why your app might be missing out if you’re not currently using this system.

The sneaky system for retention:

screenshot-docs.google.com 2015-11-02 14-21-51
 

It’s in Airbnb’s best interest to keep all communication in-app. They want to make it as easy as possible for the host and traveler to communicate through their system before booking. Eliminating extra steps or unnecessary frustration can prevent drop-off during the research period. Uber does this with calls between driver and client, to prevent users from bypassing the app and doing side business. In other words, companies use this system to protect their business and reduce abandonment in the conversion funnel.

Let’s take a look at another use case here. Have you noticed any similarities between Linkedin, Github or Google Docs notification emails ?

screenshot-docs.google.com 2015-11-02 14-22-00
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As you can see in the Linkedin example above, the triggered notification email serves a double purpose. Not only does it handily keep the user up-to-date on account activity, it also allows the user to reply to the message thread by simply hitting “reply.” As the saying goes, “time is money”. Saving your users time will drive higher engagement that leads to greater engagement, conversion or sales.

Google Docs does the same thing with comments. It can be a bit of work to keep track of group edits and feedback – Google reduces friction by sending notification emails to all collaborators.  

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If you hit reply, it opens a new email with a dedicated address that allows you to reply to the comment. This makes it much easier to comment on-the-go on your smartphone, where it’s not as easy to open another app to work directly in the document.

How can I set this up myself?

You might know email service providers for their reputation of doing a great job of delivering your email, but did you know some also provide additional tools to set up “reply by email” systems?

If your app includes a messaging system, we highly recommend you try optimizing the user experience with this feature. It’s really easy to set up, we promise!

Here’s a guide and a demo of how it works with Mailjet. We created our own messaging app as an example of how this would look in a real-life use case. If a user tagged in a message is currently offline, he’ll receive an email notification so that he won’t miss a beat and can reply even if they want to stay offline.

This demo was built on Mailjet’s inbound processing API and some basic ReactJS and NodeJS code. Check out the app in all its glory on our Github page!

Wearhacks: A Weekend of Wearables

Hackathons are one of my favorite events to attend as a Developer Evangelist. You get to step outside of your day-to-day role and just code for yourself, from scratch. There are many ways to approach a hackathon, some attend with a specific problem in mind that they’d like to solve, others use it as a time to creatively experiment with new frameworks and languages.

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Hacking the future

Last weekend, I represented Mailjet in attending the inaugural Wearhacks Paris. We’re especially proud to have been an API partner and sponsor, because we love their initiative. Wearhacks Paris is an international non-profit and connected and wearable technology community. They hold free weekend-long hackathons which encourage developers (and non-devs – designers, project managers) to build and innovate with wearables.

Devices featured at Wearhacks, such as the Myo armband, have huge implications in how we interact with technology in the future, but more importantly for healthcare as well.

To top it off all of the excitement, I was also invited to mentor, which gave me a chance to dig into code that was not mine. My task was to help teams build their ideas into reality during the 48 hour span. The time flew by as I sat down and helped some teams find their hack ideas, brainstorm creative ways to integrate the Mailjet API, and occasionally debug Python, some C, and some Java.It was really rewarding to hop from project to project and see all of these clever and potentially life-changing ideas come to life. One of these ideas included a connected stick to help improve the experience of the visually impaired walking down the street, built using Arduino. Another was a mechanical arm that follows the movements of a human arm through the Myo.

I’ll even let you in on a little secret – Wearhacks was held at (42), just 20 minutes from my house. It came in handy for taking small naps – even when under the time crunch, it’s important to take small breaks and switch off with teammates during a hackathon. You’ll come back refreshed with new ideas and less likely to make mistakes.

When the nerves kick in

The most nervewracking part for hackers is getting up on stage to present before judges.  You have two minutes to show the best of what you created in the past two days. And I’m telling you, the sleep deprivation makes this task that much harder to do. when you are really tired, this task is more than hard to do.

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Roughly 20 teams pitched in front of the mentors and only five were selected to present their hack in the front of the final jury. Then the final jury had the hard task to chose the winners. All of the pitches were very well organized, it sure was a tough call.

After much deliberation, 42_FlyMyo took home first place, winning a trip to Seoul, Korea to attend another hackathon! 42_FlyMyo hacked the Parrot drone using the Myo armband, which allows you to control a small drone with arm movements. Congrats guys!

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This is the future right here – 1 in 5 American’s own some type of wearable technology and the wearable band market grew by $684 worldwide in the first half of 2014 compared with the first half of 2013.


New to hackathons or looking for ways to improve your strategy? Check out my talk “How To Win A Hackathon”.

The Must Attend Tech Events of 2015

As a Developer Evangelist, I’m often asked when and where the next coolest event is. My friends and industry peers know that I travel professionally to attend events and keep up to date on latest tech trends. Since the weather is starting to warm up, hackathons and conferences are also back from winter hibernation. Get your business cards ready, because it’s time to attend events again!

I’ve gathered a list of the not-to-be-missed events around the globe in the coming months.

apidays

Locations: Berlin, Germany / San Francisco, California / Sydney, Australia / Barcelona, Spain / Paris, France

Dates: Germany: April 23 – 25 / California: June 17 – 18 / Australia: February 10 – 11 / Spain: May 6 – 7 / France: TBD

As you may have guessed from the name, this international conference is focused on API innovation. They always have a line up of sharp speakers. I went to the event in Paris and the venue was awesome.

At the Paris API Days, there was even a speed hack – a three hour long hackathon! Developers race against the clock to integrate 8 API challenges as quickly as possible.

thenextweb

Locations: Amsterdam, Netherlands /  New York, NY / Sao Paulo, Brazil

Dates: Amsterdam: April 23 – 24, New York: November 18

The Next Web brings together a diverse range of attendees, from specialized developers to tech VCs. This is probably why a lot of companies choose to reveal their latest product announcements at this conference.

The Next Web is also known for their Hack Battle, which they’ve held for the past five years now. Designers and developers from around the world gather to hack for 36 hours.

techcrunch

Location: New York, NY

Dates: May 2-6

The trifecta: a good mix of hackathon, conference and startup pitches. Techcrunch Disrupt is an annual event brings in some big vendors and guest speakers. The mega conference first kicks off over the weekend with the hackathon, then moves into Startup Battlefield during the conference, where 30 companies battle it off in front of a panel of expert judges to take home the Disrupt Cup.

We attended last year and sponsored an API contest and raffled off a Parrot drone.

collision

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Dates: May 5 – 6

Held in Downtown Vegas, Collision is structured in a manner that’s very conducive to building organic relationships. Created by Tony Hsieh, Founder of Zappos, the heart of Collision is all about “serendipitous encounters”. He has said that he himself spends an estimated “1000 collisionable hours” in Downtown each year. Hsieh’s belief is that the key to success is having these serendipitous meetings.

Our marketing team attended the conference last year and had a blast exploring the downtown area – they also met quite a few fellow European startups.

twiliosignal

Location: San Francisco, California

Dates: May 19 – 20

A great conference with thought leadership on software and cloud communication. This year’s speaker line up includes Eric Ries, Author of The Lean Startup and Dr. Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon among many others.

They also have a solid lineup of after parties, with the most notable one being $BASH. The description on their homepage says “It’s Coney Island for coders. Solve challenges, collect tickets, and score swag with better food and fewer frightening clowns.”

dotconference

Location: Paris, France

Dates: Various dates from June 8th through December 7th

Their tagline is “Tech conferences, reinvented”. What’s unique about the Dot conferences is that it’s actually broken into 6 parallel sessions, ranging from programming languages and tech topics. The six different conferences include  DotScale, DotJS, DotSwift, DotGo and DotCSS and DotRB.

They also have a great speaker round-up, last year the creator of JS was part of the line-up.

awsreinvent

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Dates: October 6 – 9

AWS re:Invent is a full immersion in cloud technology, with AWS boot camps and hackathons. They open the event to both customers and non-customers, so it’s a great way to get your hands on AWS if you haven’t before. For those with more advanced questions, there are also Q&A sessions with the engineering experts that built the AWS Cloud.

I’ve also heard lots of good things about their After Hours Events, I mean it’s in Vegas after all! AWS re:Invent is an excellent opportunity to improve your skills (and get AWS Certified) but to also network with a targeted group of fellow developers also interested in AWS.

websummit

Location: Dublin, Ireland

Dates: November 3 – 5

WebSummit is a massive conference of 23,000 attendees. Not only is there a great variety of startup attendees, but there is a packed schedule of after parties every night. It’s the perfect venue for networking in Dublin.

Speaking of variety, there are also loads of talks that take place simultaneously throughout the day, so you’re bound to find something that fits your interests at all times.

leweb

Location: Paris, France

Dates: December 9 – 11

LeWeb is arguably the most well-known French conference across the world,

Founded by Loic Le Meur, a serial entrepreneur based in San Francisco, LeWeb  brings in almost 4,000 participants from 80 countries each year. This year, they will be hosting a Pop-Up Lab for the very first time. Curated by Makery, the program will talk about how the makers’ ecosystem is changing up the traditional business model.

Tickets can get pretty steep, so I would recommend grabbing early bird tickets sooner than later!

 

What are some events we might have missed? Are you attending any of the above? Be sure to say hi to the Mailjet crew!

Is Growth Hacking soon to be dead?

This is a follow-up to Oussama Ammar’s (Co-Founder and Partner at TheFamily) 20 minute talk at BlendWebMix in Lyon, France, on October 30th 2014.

What’s behind this catchy title?

In Oussama’s opinion, Growth Hacking has lost a huge part of it’s efficiency since its techniques have become well known by everyone. What skyrocketed as a trend in the past few years has now become common practice, and is close to be over, so we need to start moving forward. According to Oussama, what does “moving forward” mean? It means giving top priority to customer care and scaling it. For once, the French startup scene can avoid being 5-10 years behind the United States by considering this now.

The previous paragraph is just a short summary of Oussama’s talk. Because I’m really interested in startup ecosystems, I did some more research and asked a few Growth Hackers what they think about the perennity of their work.

 

If you don’t know what Growth Hacking is, I recommend you to read this article before going further.

A trend?

First, let’s check Google Trends on “Growth Hacking”:

growth_hacking_trend

It at least allows us to say that there’s an important growth of this trend since the end of 2012, so 2 years ago.

And if it’s not enough to convince you of the importance of it and the cool image it returns, just check on LinkedIn your relations who used to work in marketing in startups. How many of them proudly display “Growth Hacker” as their current job now? Yes, a lot.

Inversion of the curve?

So this is the moment when we wonder how this kind of metrics could reverse.

First, we can’t deny it, some Growth Hacking methods have lost their initial efficiency because of their popularity.

For example, a classic method for great acquisitions was to post the link of your landing page on Hacker News and ProductHunt plus having an article on TechCrunch when you officially launch your product. It used to give good results, but now that everyone does it, you’ll find way larger lists of new products than before on these websites every day and it becomes more and more difficult to shine (get a lot of upvotes and be in the top products).

Another one: emails. It was a tool acclaimed by Growth Hackers too because they found ways to stand out from traditional emails. Apart from the famous story of Hotmail, there were the emails sent like if it was from the CEO (or at least a real person instead of a bot: say hi to “Émilie Mailjet”!), automatically triggered emails when you didn’t use the product for X time etc … Some great improvements that everyone uses now. Honestly, who truly believes at the end of 2014 that the CEO of the company selling the product they use is directly and personally reaching them? That’s what is killing Growth Hacking.

But Growth Hacking is not soon to be dead

The essence of Growth Hacking is to test and iterate, so it’s a permanent reinvention.

Every startup/product is different, and it will always be possible to find new hacks.

The thing is that it’s all about cycles: a startup will use a new way to get more growth and collect the profits of it until it becomes the standard. Thus, you should really consider how important it is to be the initiator of such manners. That’s why companies like Facebook or Pinterest have some teams dedicated to Growth Hacking with their own engineers, designers and product managers.

What about customer care?

Care is showing customers how important they are, like if you considered them individually and not as a set. It’s obviously great for retention, because happy customers stay, but also for acquisition. Indeed, it acts like a natural referral: happy customers will talk about your product around them and bring new customers to you. Thus, it’s a powerful approach that every startup should really consider as a priority.

How many of you have already bought a product because you’ve seen an ad on a website? And how many of you have already bought a product because a friend recommended it? I guess you understand the impact of customer care now.

But in my opinion, we can’t consider customer care apart from Growth Hacking and we should see it as one of its methods. Customer care is part of the Growth Hacking, and this method is at the beginning of its cycle: it’s not already a standard for startups at all, and companies like Airbnb have taken the lead. At Mailjet, we also have understood that proper support is a key value and offer all our customers a 24/7 support to answer their questions as fast as possible.

In the next months, startups will probably consider it as the new thing to do and make their best to reach an incredible level of customer care, but in the meantime, there will probably have something new allowing one or a few companies to distinguish themselves.

What will it be and which company will take the lead on it? I have no idea. It’s like on Twitter, there are the followings and the followers. Choose your side!

 

Thanks to Youcef Eskouri, Anthony Marnell and Clément Delangue for the precious advice.

Mailjet @ RubyConf – Obrigado, Braga!

Bom dia!

Mailjet’s DevRel team went to the first ever RubyConf Portugal event which took place in Braga on October 13 and 14. Spoiler alert: it was really awesome.
Do you know Braga? (no shame if you don’t – I didn’t)
Braga is the 3rd biggest city in Portugal after Lisbon and Porto. It’s about 30 minutes away from Porto (the closest airport) by car.

About the event

This was a 2 days conference on the theme of Ruby in Bom Jesus de Braga, a pilgrimage sanctuary on top of the mountains, with a beautiful park.
Mailjet @ RubyConf - Obrigado, Braga!
There were about 250 attendees from all over Europe, mostly developers.
The atmosphere was really friendly (I guess all these local beers and Porto shots helped) and the event was really well organized. Congrats to the staff!
For Mailjet, it was the first event in Portugal and a great opportunity to meet people there because we have heard great things about their developer community and have been excited to check it out.
As usual, the Mailjet Crew air dropped some pretty awesome swag to the event: mint boxes, eye masks, stickers… all got participants excited. More importantly, it created a lot of conversations around email best practices, deliverability, and our tech!
Mailjet @ RubyConf - Obrigado, Braga!2
We sponsored the lunch of the first day, which was really awesome: great food (& the desserts, OMG), Portuguese wine and a wonderful place. We got a lot of thanks from participants but the caterers deserved the credit!

 

 

 

 

Mailjet @ RubyConf - Obrigado, Braga!3

About the conference

The conference was both inspiring and instructive with 14 speakers on various topics (from APIs to Sales through FrontEnd and Search), one hour per talk, questions included. Depending on the presentations, it felt a bit long for some, but quite cool to learn a lot for others.
In his talk “Frontend Choices”, Alex Coles made us realize that in terms of front-end development, Rails has not changed since almost 10 years (created in 2005).
In parallel, the rise of JavaScript applications is obvious, so to keep using Rails, he suggests the following architecture to build your web app: an API from day one (with Ruby frameworks like Rails, Sinatra, Lotus.rb) and a front-end JavaScript framework (AngularJS, Backbone, Knockout, Ember) while using JavaScript tooling (Karma, Grunt, Gulp).
I definitely agree with this architecture: it has obvious advantages when it comes to be available on multiple platforms and make easier to open the API to anyone.
About the front-end choice, I prefer using a front-end JavaScript framework to structure my code (I’ve really enjoyed working with AngularJS), but I understand that some developers prefer to keep full control by coding in pure Javascript.
Mailjet @ RubyConf - Obrigado, Braga!4
I had a good time listening to Carlos Souza about building web APIs with Rails. It’s in my comfort zone, but it’s a topic I like and on which I want to improve my skills. Plus, I’m not a Rails developer, and it was interesting for me to see some other ways to perform APIs than those I’m used to work on (PHP or Node.js for example). However, in my opinion, what makes really a big difference between two web applications is not in the back-end (you can make great RESTful APIs in all these languages) but in the front-end JavaScript frameworks.
Mailjet @ RubyConf - Obrigado, Braga!5
Interested in using Mailjet with Ruby? Find our wrapper, available here on Github!
Also find more photos from the event here.

Coming back next time?

Definitely !
Obrigado, Braga !

 

 

From the Front – Bologna

Mailjet, through Charles Collas and Shubham Sharma, both developers evangelists, was present at the Conference From the Front which happened in Bologna (Italy), September 18th and 19th.

What is From the Front?

From the Front is a Front-End italian conference (but obviously, talks are in English). This time was the 4th edition and welcomed about 400 attendees in an incredible place, the Teatro Duse in Bologna.

It lasts 2 full days, from 10 to 18 with a breakfast, a lunch, some breaks and even a party between the 2 days (huge thanks to the organizers and especially to Luca).
This schedule is awesome for learning a lot of things during the conferences as well as meeting people!
From the Front - Bologna1

Why was it important for Mailjet to be present?

Mailjet loves developers, we offer them an emailing API and some wrappers to help them in their work and have a simple and fast solution to send emails in their projects.
Plus, there were a lot of attendees because of the awesomeness of the event itself: it’s one of the biggest Front conferences in Europe, with great speakers, set in a magical place! Furthermore, it was the first event Mailjet attended in Italy, so we were very excited to meet new people!
For us, being present at events makes a huge difference : you actually meet people, so they will then be able to identify you and to put a face on your company.
Plus, if you make a good impression, this feeling will be associated to your product too.
From the Front - Bologna2
What about the talks?
We were really lucky to be here: we heard great talks from awesome speakers.
The conferences were more of a high-level concept : Estelle Weyl’s talk about Responsive Web Design made us realize that we are too focused on the actual design we have for every device. But the thing is that we need to consider that people who visit our websites on their smartphones don’t often have the same connection that they have on their computers: they want it to load quickly. Performance is the key!
On my side, I especially liked the talk done by Christian Heilmann. He explained a philosophy weshould all apply: make things move by working on projects, then make them open source by writing articles about them and connecting with people sharing the same state of mind. This is exactly what we try to do as developers evangelists.

Who did we meet? It’s networking time!

We met a lot of Italian (obviously…) developers (mostly front-end, of course) working in very different industries: automobile, insurance, luxury…
We talked a lot with Christian Heilmann, developer evangelist @ Mozilla, owner of the website Developer Evangelism, and writer of a book about our unusual work. He’s really accessible and has very pleasantly shared advice about his work (which is also ours).
Overall, we really enjoyed this event on all points.
See you at From the Front 2015? We’ll be there for sure!
And should you have attended this year edition, feel free to comment to share your experience!